Iowa Company Sees Rise in Nitrogen Stabilizer Use
Stabilizing nitrogen reduces nitrate loss, protects yield and profit potential

Monday, March, 21, 2016 8:30 AM EST

INDIANAPOLIS — In Brian Kruse’s 20-year history working in retail agriculture, this past fall was a first — 100 percent of his customers who apply fall anhydrous ammonia used a nitrogen stabilizer with their fertilizer application, a practice that supports environmental stewardship.

Kruse works in St. Ansgar, Iowa, for Farmers Feed & Grain Co. The family-owned company, which specializes in fertilizer applications and seed varieties, installed an anhydrous ammonia plant in spring 2012 with the goal of custom-applying the majority of the nitrogen it sells. 

This past fall, every acre in Kruse’s territory that received an anhydrous application was treated with N-Serve® nitrogen stabilizer, a product from Dow AgroSciences that is proven to reduce nitrate leaching into groundwater. Kruse says awareness of protecting nitrogen applications is increasing due to water quality concerns in Iowa. As a result, more growers in his area are using N-Serve to keep nitrogen in the root zone.

“My story with N-Serve is it isn’t just a way to ensure a better crop, it is also trying to make sure we have our nitrates in the right spot,” Kruse says.

New initiatives contribute to environmental stewardship
In recent years, the state of Iowa has established nutrient reduction practices to protect groundwater.

Through the Iowa Water Quality Initiative, growers implementing nutrient reduction strategies are eligible for cost-share conservation funds from the Iowa Department of Agriculture. Practices include planting cover crops, performing no-till or strip-till, or using a nitrapyrin nitrification inhibitor, such as N-Serve or Instinct® II nitrogen stabilizer, when applying fertilizer. As environmental stewardship remains top of mind across the state, the use of nitrogen stabilizers among Kruse’s customers is at an all-time high. 

“Growers are attentive to wanting to do a good job and create the best outcome they can,” Kruse says. “Stabilizing their nitrogen is just as important as any other crop enhancement that they’ve done.”

In addition to assisting growers with implementing nitrogen efficiency practices, Farmers Feed & Grain Co. is participating in a program to take education a step further. The company is now involved in SUSTAIN, a program developed by United Suppliers. SUSTAIN is a land stewardship approach offering growers and retailers a way to document and communicate their effective management of the land.

Growers participating in SUSTAIN will work with Farmers Feed & Grain Co. staff to bring the latest tools, including nitrogen stabilizers, to the field in ways that are practical and effective in improving crop management. These practices can then be recorded and communicated to consumers.

Protecting nitrogen has multiple benefits
Having unprotected nitrogen prior to planting, depending on temperature and rain, can result in significant nitrogen loss before critical periods of crop uptake, Kruse says.

“We’ve had some turmoil in weather patterns,” Kruse says. “In 2013, a lot of it prevented planting because of continuous rainfall. In 2014, there was excessive rain in early May and June, so we’ve experienced some traumatic rain events and [growers] see the need for their nitrogen to stay put.”

Stabilizing nitrogen protects corn grower’s largest input investment by inhibiting the nitrification process and reducing nitrate leaching into groundwater. By keeping nitrogen available to the plant longer, it also maximizes yield and profit potential.

“Doing enough side-by-side checks, we’ve seen up to 9-bushel responses in the fall and 5-bushel responses in the spring,” Kruse says about the anhydrous acres treated with N-Serve. “[N-Serve] is our best product to mix with anhydrous and has a long history of being available to use.”

Farmers Feed & Grain Co. custom applicator Jeff Myhre, who started with the company in 2011, says trials have shown stronger corn plants when stabilized with N-Serve versus untreated acres.

“We’ve done a lot of trials over the years and we have an injection system with mapping,” Myhre says.  “I’ve never seen one [N-Serve trial] that hasn’t paid off. It’s just peace of mind, a little bit of insurance that [nitrogen] is going to stay put.”

Farmers Feed & Grain Co. operates on an average of 10,000 to 13,000 acres of custom anhydrous ammonia applications each year — fall and spring combined. This past fall, Myhre said, they custom-applied close to 7,000 acres of anhydrous ammonia in his region, and every single acre was stabilized using an injection system.

“It makes you feel better putting [nitrogen] out there in the fall when you know you have N-Serve with it,” Myhre says.

N-Serve and Instinct II are the only nitrogen stabilizers accepted for registration by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. N-Serve can be used with anhydrous ammonia, and Instinct II protects nitrogen when used with UAN, urea and manure.

For more information about protecting nitrogen and reducing nitrate leaching, visit For information on the Iowa Department of Agriculture’s cost-share program visit

About Dow AgroSciences
Dow AgroSciences discovers, develops, and brings to market crop protection and plant biotechnology solutions for the growing world. Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, Dow AgroSciences is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company and had annual global sales of $6.4 billion in 2015. Learn more at Follow Dow AgroSciences on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+, or subscribe to our News Release RSS Feed.

Danielle Switalski
Bader Rutter

Tiffany Dean
Dow AgroSciences


®DOW Diamond, Instinct and N-Serve are trademarks of The Dow Chemical Company (“Dow”) or an affiliated company of Dow. Instinct II is not registered for sale or use in all states. Contact your state pesticide regulatory agency to determine if a product is registered for sale or use in your state. Do not fall-apply anhydrous ammonia south of Highway 16 in the state of Illinois. Always read and follow label directions.